Isuzu prides its D-max on being a no-nonsense, capable workhorse of a pick-up truck that gets the job done.
As the brand claims, its reputation is as a “rugged all-rounder that just works”. So bearing this in mind, the manufacturer was taking something of a risk in downsizing the engine of the new-generation model from the old 2.5-litre unit to a new 1.9-litre turbodiesel powertrain.
But Isuzu insists the smaller engine has improved refinement and economy without sacrificing anything in the way of performance or brute strength. The latest D-max retains its joint class-leading towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes and a payload of above 1.0 tonne. In fact, a weight saving of 64kg has led to a payload increase of about 50kg across the range and enabled the inclusion of a spare wheel on double- as well as single- and extended-cab models.
While the 1.9 engine’s output of 164hp is on a par with its predecessor’s 163hp, maximum torque has fallen from 400Nm to 360Nm, but the brand claims the low gearing, with a very short throw between first and second gear, compensates for the reduction and enables the retention of that towing limit.
A bonus many operators are likely to appreciate is that the D-max is the only pick-up around to meet Euro6 emissions regulations without the need for the addition of AdBlue.
Emissions for the 4x4 six-speed manual D-max are put at 183g/km, down 4.7% on the 2015 model-year 2.5-litre truck, and the six-speed auto driven here comes in at 205g/km – a 6.8% cut.
In terms of fuel consumption the brand claims 40.4mpg for the 4x4 manual represents a 4.4% reduction, and 36.2mpg for the six-speed auto is 7.7% more frugal than the 2015 (five-speed) automatic.
These figures, however, are no match for the Nissan Navara, officially the most economical pick-up on the market, which turns in a claimed 159g/km of CO2 and 44.1mpg for a double-cab manual, and 174g/km for CO2 with 40.3mpg for the auto.
Isuzu does not prioritise the lifestyle sector to the same extent as rival pick-up manufacturers such as VW, Ford, Nissan or Mitsubishi, but the flagship Blade we drove is not without style and cuts quite a dash even at the top table.
The D-max Blade Auto costs £27,999, (all prices exclude VAT). This compares to £31,995 for the Amarok Aventura automatic, but is actually more expensive than the Ford Ranger Wildtrak 3.2 TDCI double-cab auto (£27,471), the Nissan Navara Tekna 2.3 dCi Auto (£27,071) and the Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian 2.4 DI-D Auto (25,699).
|Isuzu D-max double-cab Blade Auto|
|Price (ex VAT) £27,999|
|Price range (ex VAT) £15,749-£27,999|
|Insurance Group 40A|
|Service intervals 12,000mls|
|Load length 1,485mm|
|Load width (min/max) 1,110/1,530mm|
|Load bay height n/a|
|Gross payload 1,101kg|
|Load volume n/a|
|Engine size/power 1,898cc/164hp|
|Combined fuel economy 36.2mpg|
The flagship Blade has a certain swagger but lacks the refinement of rivals and price may prove prohibitive. As a workhorse the D-max comes into its own further down the range.